Jon (chairman_mo) wrote in vg_review,
Jon
chairman_mo
vg_review

Jedi Knight 2: Jedi Outcast



~ Graphics- Nothing special here. Using the Quake 3:Arena engine, and that's hardly top of the line tech these days. Most beings are as well detailed as the engine allows. The mouth animation during dialogue is laughably bad. Backgrounds are nice looking from afar, but tend to be pretty fuzzy and pixellated if you look at anything too closely. Weapon design and animation is extremely generic.

The important graphics, ones pertaining to gameplay rather than just asthetics, are good. Slowdown was minimal, even on my Minimum Requirement machine. It's easy to tell what sort of weapon someone is using. Depth perception can be hazy at times: I had a lot more trouble judging if I'd take damage from a jump/fall than I usually do in a FPS. The third person view has most of the limitations common to the perspective, but those are covered in the Gameplay section.

The Star Wars Universe is captured well, and there's a lot more graphical innovation than I've come to expect from SW games. Not much receycling of scenery from the movies. Nothing new in the alien races, droids, or personalities, but all of them are fairly accurate depictions of their movie counterparts.

(3/5)

~ Sound- Again, pretty standard fare. Lots of the Star Wars thematical elements you know and love(?): dramatic Williams-inspired score, humming lightsabers, searing laser fire. The voice acting is a mixed bag. Fortunately, Kyle (the main character and speaker of 60+% of the lines) is generally excellent. Some nobody does a fair Mark Hamill impression. Billy Dee Williams does a fair Billy Dee Williams impression. Jan (the sidekick) and most of the other major characters are passable but not great. A few (the bartender, in particular) are really terrible. Why do so many writers seem to think that aliens' difficulty in speaking English will just result in them sounding like idiots?

(3/5)

~ Interface- The interface is one of the game's strong points. It's main downside is that they bit off more than they could chew with the variety in Force powers. Like most FPSes you can map just about any key in existence to do whatever you want, but even with a highly customized keymapping I still couldn't quite make all the commonly used abilities convenient. In multiplayer you generally want easy access to 5+ force powers, and it's simply not possible to do that without taking your hand off the all-important movement keys. Lightsaber battles could be a little tighter. One-on-one they are a joy, but as soon as you're up against numerous opponents it becomes button mashing. Jumping can feel a little shaky, but for the most part the excellent Quake 3:Arena engine keeps things very tight.

(4/5)

~ Replay value- Fantastic. I doubt I'll ever want to play through the single player mode again, but the multiplayer is phenomenal. The main thing I thought stopped Quake 3:Arena from matching up to Unreal Tournament was the boring weapons and lack of theme. Lightsabers, force powers, high level of customization, playing as Ugnaughts... JK2 more than makes up for this fault. I'm just getting DSL at home so I haven't had much time to play it there yet, but I've spent a fair amount of time playing against the CompUSA clerks and I _love_it_. Return to Wolfenstein didn't have the appeal to displace Unreal Tournament as my preferred fragfest FPS, but JK2 does.

(5/5)

~ Gameplay- Jedi Knight 2 mixes a FPS with a Tomb Raider style action-adventure. The intent is good, but they have limited success largely because of their emphasis on platform-hopping and button-finding rather than more complex, interesting puzzles. Multiplayer design is superb, but a portion of that is the third-party engine.

Feathers in cap: One-on-one lightsaber combat (single or multiplayer) is designed extremely well. It has a very Bushido Blade-like, fencing feel to it. Adding Force powers into the mix just make it all the better. The Force powers are well done, both as a tactical edges in multiplayer and as the tools to complete missions in single player. The writing is above average, but still nowhere near the quality LucasArts was managing 10 years ago. Single player level design is extremely good. Imperial bases are martial and well planned, cities are complex, wilderness areas are very wild and don't seem manufactured. They manage to be challenging and interesting as well, if rather linear. Multiplayer level design is functional but doesn't boast any instant classic maps on par with Quake's 2fort5 or UT's Facing Worlds. This will certainly be remedied when more home made maps become available.

Black eyes: Third person view, which is necessary for lightsaber combat, can have major camera problems. On more than one occasion I've lost sight of my character because of overhangs or obstacles not going transparent. Weapons besides the lightsaber are bland. They're a mix of old FPS standbys and UT ripoffs with a little Star Wars flavor thrown in. The biggest disappointment was the sniper rifle. I'm guessing the designers are chumps that got victimized by snipers in UT, and out of bitterness crippled JK2's sniper rifle by making it pathetically slow. If you want a one-shot kill it isn't a matter of carefully aiming at your target's head. It's a matter of charging the stupid gun up for 5 seconds (and by then the target is probably making off with your flag, laughing about how l33t they are). The first few single player levels capture the Star Wars feel a bit TOO well, ie- hero gunning down scores upon scores of incompetent storm troopers. It gets better after you get your lightsaber and the Force, but the learning curve at that point is terrible. You go from never having used a lightsaber or the Force in combat before to fighting an entire bar full of pissed off and heavily armed bounty hunters. Assuming you manage to survive, it is pretty easy to acclimate with practice. Needless to say that bit singlehandedly inflated the Swear Word Rating pretty substantially.

I thought they did a poor job with variety. There weren't any puzzles beyond "Jump around and
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<lj-cut text="All reviews will be cut so journals aren't too heavily spammed">

~ Graphics- Nothing special here. Using the Quake 3:Arena engine, and that's hardly top of the line tech these days. Most beings are as well detailed as the engine allows. The mouth animation during dialogue is laughably bad. Backgrounds are nice looking from afar, but tend to be pretty fuzzy and pixellated if you look at anything too closely. Weapon design and animation is extremely generic.

The important graphics, ones pertaining to gameplay rather than just asthetics, are good. Slowdown was minimal, even on my Minimum Requirement machine. It's easy to tell what sort of weapon someone is using. Depth perception can be hazy at times: I had a lot more trouble judging if I'd take damage from a jump/fall than I usually do in a FPS. The third person view has most of the limitations common to the perspective, but those are covered in the Gameplay section.

The Star Wars Universe is captured well, and there's a lot more graphical innovation than I've come to expect from SW games. Not much receycling of scenery from the movies. Nothing new in the alien races, droids, or personalities, but all of them are fairly accurate depictions of their movie counterparts.

(3/5)

~ Sound- Again, pretty standard fare. Lots of the Star Wars thematical elements you know and love(?): dramatic Williams-inspired score, humming lightsabers, searing laser fire. The voice acting is a mixed bag. Fortunately, Kyle (the main character and speaker of 60+% of the lines) is generally excellent. Some nobody does a fair Mark Hamill impression. Billy Dee Williams does a fair Billy Dee Williams impression. Jan (the sidekick) and most of the other major characters are passable but not great. A few (the bartender, in particular) are really terrible. Why do so many writers seem to think that aliens' difficulty in speaking English will just result in them sounding like idiots?

(3/5)

~ Interface- The interface is one of the game's strong points. It's main downside is that they bit off more than they could chew with the variety in Force powers. Like most FPSes you can map just about any key in existence to do whatever you want, but even with a highly customized keymapping I still couldn't quite make all the commonly used abilities convenient. In multiplayer you generally want easy access to 5+ force powers, and it's simply not possible to do that without taking your hand off the all-important movement keys. Lightsaber battles could be a little tighter. One-on-one they are a joy, but as soon as you're up against numerous opponents it becomes button mashing. Jumping can feel a little shaky, but for the most part the excellent Quake 3:Arena engine keeps things very tight.

(4/5)

~ Replay value- Fantastic. I doubt I'll ever want to play through the single player mode again, but the multiplayer is phenomenal. The main thing I thought stopped Quake 3:Arena from matching up to Unreal Tournament was the boring weapons and lack of theme. Lightsabers, force powers, high level of customization, playing as Ugnaughts... JK2 more than makes up for this fault. I'm just getting DSL at home so I haven't had much time to play it there yet, but I've spent a fair amount of time playing against the CompUSA clerks and I _love_it_. Return to Wolfenstein didn't have the appeal to displace Unreal Tournament as my preferred fragfest FPS, but JK2 does.

(5/5)

~ Gameplay- Jedi Knight 2 mixes a FPS with a Tomb Raider style action-adventure. The intent is good, but they have limited success largely because of their emphasis on platform-hopping and button-finding rather than more complex, interesting puzzles. Multiplayer design is superb, but a portion of that is the third-party engine.

Feathers in cap: One-on-one lightsaber combat (single or multiplayer) is designed extremely well. It has a very Bushido Blade-like, fencing feel to it. Adding Force powers into the mix just make it all the better. The Force powers are well done, both as a tactical edges in multiplayer and as the tools to complete missions in single player. The writing is above average, but still nowhere near the quality LucasArts was managing 10 years ago. Single player level design is extremely good. Imperial bases are martial and well planned, cities are complex, wilderness areas are very wild and don't seem manufactured. They manage to be challenging and interesting as well, if rather linear. Multiplayer level design is functional but doesn't boast any instant classic maps on par with Quake's 2fort5 or UT's Facing Worlds. This will certainly be remedied when more home made maps become available.

Black eyes: Third person view, which is necessary for lightsaber combat, can have major camera problems. On more than one occasion I've lost sight of my character because of overhangs or obstacles not going transparent. Weapons besides the lightsaber are bland. They're a mix of old FPS standbys and UT ripoffs with a little Star Wars flavor thrown in. The biggest disappointment was the sniper rifle. I'm guessing the designers are chumps that got victimized by snipers in UT, and out of bitterness crippled JK2's sniper rifle by making it pathetically slow. If you want a one-shot kill it isn't a matter of carefully aiming at your target's head. It's a matter of charging the stupid gun up for 5 seconds (and by then the target is probably making off with your flag, laughing about how l33t they are). The first few single player levels capture the Star Wars feel a bit TOO well, ie- hero gunning down scores upon scores of incompetent storm troopers. It gets better after you get your lightsaber and the Force, but the learning curve at that point is terrible. You go from never having used a lightsaber or the Force in combat before to fighting an <i>entire bar full of pissed off and heavily armed bounty hunters</i>. Assuming you manage to survive, it is pretty easy to acclimate with practice. Needless to say that bit singlehandedly inflated the Swear Word Rating pretty substantially.

I thought they did a poor job with variety. There weren't any puzzles beyond "Jump around and <press the necessary switch/use the necessary force power>" (and there were LOTS of those), and you tended to be facing the exact same enemies for too many consecutive levels. They were stingy about introducing the more powerful weapons. I think is fairly contemptuous. Designers know we want to shoot the flak cannon. Why must they keep us from doing so until the 13th level? I was bored with the blaster rifle by the end of the first level, and guess what? It's your primary weapon until you get the lightsaber.

Finally, the characters are so stunningly archetypical that I just called the protagonist "Han Jr." and the main bad guy "Darth Whoever".

~ Overall gameplay: Above average FPS with really cool lightsaber and Force powers thrown in. Designers hate us all.

(10/15)

~ Enjoyment- Too many times the single player missions felt more like doing chores than playing a game. I couldn't play most single player sections for more than an hour before I got bored and switched to a deathmatch or CTF with bots. Multiplayer (or faux multiplayer in my case) is kickass fun. I actually briefly envied the CompUSA clerks for being able to sit around and play it all day. Few things bring a smile to my face more easily than lifting a person up with the Force and dropping them into a bottomless pit. While the sniper rifles are garbage from a gameplay standpoint, it is very fun watching someone get disintegrated by a fully charged shot. The excitement of multiplayer, rather than the drudgery of single player, gets the heavier weight in the score, since it's what I'll be spending the vast majority of my time playing.

(12/15)

~ Changes(?)- This is a sequel, but I never played the original. Sorry :(

~ Swear word rating- Besides the constant stream of profanity inherent to any multiplayer FPS, not too high. There were a few frustrating bits in single player that made me curse out loud (including the abovementioned bar fight, which earned the rare "Scream-of-'Fuck this shit!'-while-kicking-the-off-button-of-the-computer" Award before I went and practiced using the lightsaber in deathmatch), but not many.

Overall: 7.4, buy if (1) you're getting bored with Unreal Tournament or (2) you're a pathetic Star Wars geek, in which case you probably preordered it and are just reading this review so you can quote it in your hate mail to me
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